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Establishing a connection with the teachings

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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The Buddhist tradition lays a great emphasis on the importance of discipline. Discipline is a commitment to a way of life that chooses certain actions over others. Initially, this discipline may require effort, but eventually, it arises naturally from one’s understanding. As this understanding grows, so does

one’s commitment, in the same way that as a tree grows, so do its branches. However, the teachings recognize that there may be rare circumstances when we

have the moral obligation to break one of these vows “and in such circumstances,” says the Dalai Lama, “we are not only permitted to transgress a vow but it is our duty to do so.” The Mahayana path involves:

(1) establishing a connection with the teachings

(2) taking Refuge in the Three Jewels

(3) developing Bodhicitta


(4) developing meditation skills

One travels Five Paths using the combination of the skillful means of compassionate transmission of knowledge and the intuitive wisdom to see through the illusion of separate existence.

They are:

(1) The Path of Accumulation

(2) The Path of Preparation

(3) The Path of Seeing

(4) The Path of Meditation


(====5) The Path of No More Learning====

The five paths

1. The Path of Accumulation

Here the practitioner gathers what s/he needs for the journey to Enlightenment. On this path one accumulates merit from virtuous thoughts and actions and wisdom from hearing and contemplating on the teachings. If s/he has not already done so, the practitioner also cultivates the meditative stability of calm

abiding. This is the ability to meditate without becoming disturbed, to be able to concentrate one’s mind on an internal focus of attention, and to engage in intricate visualizations

2. The Path of Preparation

When the object of the meditator’s focus is the emptiness of inherent existence in all phenomena, and when this meditation leads to the experience of calm

abiding, then one has entered the Path of Preparation, sometimes called the Path of Application. The meditator develops an ever-deepening understanding of

emptiness during four stages:

(1) warmth,

(2) peak,

(3) endurance, and

(4) supreme realization.

During the warmth stage, the meditator has a conceptual understanding of emptiness. In the peak stage, this conceptual understanding increases, and one’s spiritual virtue becomes indestructible. In the endurance

stage, the meditator faces and overcomes any fears that arise out of the understanding of emptiness as the ultimate truth. When the meditator reaches the stage of supreme realization, subject and object are realized as being aspects of the same reality and s/he enters the next path. Kalu Rinpoche says that

while one is on the paths of Accumulation and Preparation, “there is a growing sense of freedom, just as if a person in prison were to have his or her bonds and manacles removed and, though still imprisoned, were free to move about the cell.”

3. The Path of Seeing

Kalu Rinpoche describes the experience of the Path of Insight as resembling the opening of the prison door. Up until this point, the meditator has only experienced the idea of emptiness. On the Path of Seeing one experiences it directly. In between meditation sessions one still perceives duality, but one’s

understanding has become nondual. At this stage, one is said to have the ability to choose one’s future rebirths. The meditator overcomes cultural

conditioning but still harbors the traces of misperceptions from numerous lifetimes, which are far more deeply ingrained. It is from the Path of Insight that one enters the first of the ten levels or “grounds” of the Bodhisattva called the “Very Joyous.”

4. The Path of Meditation

At this level, the aspiring Bodhisattva develops the ability to enter into advanced meditative states. It is on this path that one achieves the remaining nine levels of the Bodhisattva.

5. The Path of No More Learning

At this point one has attained the supreme condition of Enlightenment and become a Buddha, so there is no more learning to be done. A being at this level

simultaneously manifests omniscient consciousness (Truth Body), a pure, metamaterial form (Enjoyment Body), and a physical manifestation (Emanation Body). “It is impossible to describe the transcendent state of a Buddha with words,” says Nagarjuna. “Ordinary beings cannot even begin to imagine it.”